Michael Stuart Kelly

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Everything posted by Michael Stuart Kelly

  1. Phil, Well? Uhm... er... are you going to say what they are? In Brazil (which is a Catholic country) they have a saying. If you kneel down, you have to pray. So out with it, man! Michael
  2. John, This is a delightful little poem. It captures a very nice moment of wonderment during an everyday occurrence - a commute by train. The emotion is a typical Objectivist one instead of something like contemplating nature or an unimportant small detail, which is rare. One question. The rhyme scheme is in twos, but the verses are in threes, making the rhymes overlap with the verses. Did you have any particular effect in mind by doing that? Also, you avoided the normal cliche of making a clackety-clack type rhythm. The rhythm of your poem is pretty random. I imagine this was done to emphasize the emotion of random wonderment and not the train itself. Did you have anything further in mind? (I believe discussing these things with the author is a wonderful manner for opening people's minds to what poetry is and how to let it enrich their lives.) Michael
  3. Phil, Then let's get off the topic of that book. No arguments here. (I will do the review I announced, though, and publish others, all with locked threads.) For the record, we have very different views about the character and intentions of Mr. Valliant. Also, for the record, on RoR, my comments were restricted to an incorrect insinuation against the historical thread on OL. I am very proud of that thread and I think it will be a small tool for Ayn Rand scholars and historians for years to come. Now that this has been made very clear to all, I will probably not continue (as I stopped once before after a correction of insinuation when that thread opened with material from OL). Michael
  4. James, I don't think fragmentation is bad. On the contrary, OL is such a fragment and I spend an awful lot of time here. If Kat and I had not fragmented like we did, there probably still would be no place on the Internet where you could discuss and learn about the Brandens without a lot of insults flying around (except on their own sites). The people who hate the Brandens are relatively few, but they are very active in penetrating places where discussions about the Brandens take place. Thus, fragmentation is serving me well in promoting the ideas I believe in. I am building a place where a positive image of the Brandens is presented to the world and where I can challenge some Objectivist premises to test their strength with highly intelligent people (I strongly believe in periodically checking your premises) - and even create some works and encourage others. I will let the readers use their own minds to judge the differences in what they find here and what they find elsewhere, both about the Brandens and about other matters. I am even creating some small historical archives about Ayn Rand that would probably not be available in hostile environments. One person who authorized a statement, for example, requested that his name be withheld for now, not because he is afraid of anything or ashamed of what he wrote. He just doesn't want to be hassled by loads of insults that are common within what he called a "subculture." He's talking about both the size and behavior of the entire formal Objectivist culture. I dare say that his view of formal Objectivism is not restricted only to him. It is very widespread - and typically, formal Objectivists stay in denial mode ignoring it. I believe that the reasons for this poor image of formal Objectivist organizations and general avoidance of them by people who like Rand's ideas are the core of Barbara's lecture - not what has been insinuated (a personality dispute). (btw - I am starting to receive lots of email from people thanking me for doing this site. They are mostly from what I call a "silent contingency" and from their comments, the values they most appreciate are the quality of the content, the focus on the Brandens and the lack of acrimony.) What I think is bad is the policy of constantly bashing this person or that within the Objectivist movement and trying to blame them for the failure of the movement to be larger than it is. I also think that it is a damn shame that there is not even ONE super successful formal Objectivist organization working for profit (with my hat tipped to Zader, wishing him all the success in the world). This is reality, not any pet theory. It is observable and testable. Michael
  5. James, You just wrote: Where on earth did you get the impression that she was talking about Rand? I specifically understood her words to mean Objectivist organizations since the closing of NBI, including the present ones. I admit, she has been critical of Rand's public moralizing, excommunications, off-the-cuff psychological evaluations of other people's motives, and other behavior. I understand her words to mean that Rand's progeny generally engage in aping this behavior to the detriment of the ideas. I agree. I go by what I have observed. Many examples of what I have seen are registered in some of my 4,000 (+-) forum posts and articles over the last year on different websites. Also, Rand was always the first one to admit that she was not good at running a business - that she was an authoress instead. Your example of Reason and Cato are good ones for politically-oriented intellectual organizations, but they are not Objectivist organizations. They are essentially political think tanks. Your example of Joshua Zader's site is a perfect example of Barbara's words above (based on Philip's observation) in action: Please note that bickering is not permitted over there. People are not pointing fingers at each other. Zader's baby grows. It deserves to grow. I wholeheartedly applaud what Zader has built. Your mention of the 250,000 books distributed by ARI is an admirable undertaking, but it is essentially charity work based on receiving donations and giving products away. It is not a good example of capitalism in action like NBI was, or publishing works in mainstream publishers and hitting best-seller status like Rand and the Brandens did. Of Rand's 40 million copies of books sold, ARI's charity work represents well under one percent of her sales. Michael
  6. Barbara, I do have to admit that, as MAJESTY, you upstaged the hambone in the ongoing saga of: (drum roll) (drum roll) (drum roll) (drum roll) (drum roll) THE MAN WHO WOULD BE QUEEN There can be no forgiveness for that. Michael (PS - All right, all right. I'll try to come up with something better...)
  7. James, As an outsider looking in, I see a kind of self-imposed blindness on Objectivist insiders when discussing the merits of an organization. They get sidetracked by insinuations and insider fighting. For example, your comment above: This insinuates that they would not have a view to such importance. Frankly, the same thing could be said of you: "I am hoping upon hope that you (James) will come to this seminar with a view to the importance of seriousness about the philosophical ideas of Objectivism." Want to see where that insinuation goes? But somehow all that sounds all wrong. It gets the issues wrong. It insinuates that the reason that things are not growing very well in Objectivism is because key people don't take the right approach to the philosophy, so the insiders can point fingers at each other blaming each other, implying that the philosophy will spread like wildfire once the nefarious influence of the other side has been eliminated. I see something essential left out of this equation. Back to basics. The market. Barbara identified a very interesting statistic: 80,000 people on a mailing list. I have mentioned elsewhere another statistic. About 40 million copies of Rand's works have been sold. No other Objectivist organization and writer have reached anywhere near those figures. (Still, Barbara went best-seller and NB has sold about 4 million books.) NBI also was funded by a very capitalistic profit structure. Both ARI and TOC rely on donations. I have yet to see one best-seller coming from them. In PAR, Barbara mentioned that subscriptions to The Objectivist had dropped by over 6,000 between the break and when it closed. To top it off, there are about 6 billion people in the world. What this has led me to believe about Objectivist organizations in general is the following: 1. Fiction has been treated as sort of a bastard child of Objectivism. Of course, good writing has been hard to come by. But the proportion of fiction to nonfiction by Rand's progeny is staggeringly in favor of nonfiction. Yet it is fiction that sells the philosophy the best. 2. The top two organizations, ARI and TOC rely heavily on an elitist approach - ARI because of their view that Objectivism is a closed integrated system (leading to the need for a person to absorb the whole thing in order to be acknowledged by them as being serious), and TOC frankly caters to colleges and universities. (The TOC magazine, The New Individualist, is now trying to become more popular as a news magazine with a slant, and at least that is a different approach). I see neither of these basic attitudes resulting in high membership numbers. 3. Aggressive one-on-one marketing is not practiced. This needs a marketing staff and I don't see one anywhere being set up. 4. The everyday interests of normal people are not dealt with. Any analysis of the successful products on the intellectual market will show how to do that. (I suggest looking at the structure of the neighborhood church for starters.) 5. I agree with Barbara that there is a disgust factor with all the bickering. These groups not only practice bickering, THEY PREACH THE BENEFITS OF IT (both directly and indirectly - with TOC'S members being the least offenders). A simple comparison of Rand's book sales against membership in Objectivist organizations is more than enough proof of the disgust factor. People are reading. They just aren't showing up. 6. Talent is ignored. It should be fostered, but it is ignored by older Objectivists. Instead, a talented person receives mind-numbing command for the need to conform (ARI) or gets his thinking all wound up in academic technicalities (TOC), or worse, gets subjected to highly insulting peer pressure on any number of Internet forums. There are several other considerations of this nature that need to be examined. If you look at the works of both of the Brandens, you will see one characteristic. They are highly successful in the marketplace. You know, the one outside of Objectivist circles. Is that because of their approach to philosophical ideas? Of course not. This approach is merely one part of the product they sell. There are all kinds of books being written from all sorts of philosophical angles, some very similar to theirs. Yet those books don't sell. So it ain't the approach to the ideas per se. Also, when Rand wrote her fiction, she certainly did not cater to the prevailing philosophical ideas. She became successful in the marketplace. When NBI was founded on a shoestring, it did not cater to the prevailing philosophical ideas. It became successful in the marketplace. Ain't it time to ask why? Objectivism insiders need to wake up to reality. There is a market out there. That is the proper place to sell ideas. The irony is that Objectivism preaches the virtue of a free market, yet donor sponsored organizations are considered as the last word in how to successfully implement the philosophy. Their very existence as being dependent on donations, while preaching free-market capitalism, is proof of the fact that something is seriously wrong. This gets compounded when you look at where Objectivism came from. Rand never had the problem of needing donations to survive. Neither did the Brandens. Neither did NBI. Maybe people should listen and look instead of pointing fingers. Just a little, anyway. They might learn something. Michael
  8. I'll second that. Inky is AWESOME. Michael
  9. Roger, LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL... He's right, but it's still funny... Dayaamm! Michael
  10. Phil, I was in doubt about whether to start this thread or not for precisely the reasons you mentioned. However, I have been in show business a good many years. This behavior of stealing or cashing in on an audience you do not have the talent to draw, one gathered by a person/group you are hostile to, is a typically called a dirty trick. There is no excuse for that kind of behavior among people of honor. There are about 6 billion people on this planet. That's more than enough market. Objectivism deals with earning your values and producing them, not trying to sneak them from people you despise at an event they sponsor. In the defense of those who used harsh language here, such blatant observable hypocrisy makes them mad, as it did me. But still, point noted. The acrimony level should be lowered. OL is for better things. Michael
  11. Jody, This is incidental, but when I was at Boston University in the early 1970's, I attended a few lectures by Issac Asimov. He was very entertaining. I remember him mentioning an evolution theory for human beings. Women evolved smaller (and other things) because they are physically impaired during a fairly long pregnancy. So they stayed home and took care of the cave and did not develop prowess. Men evolved stronger (among other things) because they had to go out and kill dinosaurs and stuff for dinner. Following that logic, Asimov said that it was women who actually prompted human progress. They developed agriculture, which they could do near the cave, while the cavemen were out hunting. Somehow, despite the simplicity, I have a problem finding fault in these observations. Michael
  12. Roger, Here is one of the cruxes of our disagreement. I didn't mean to misrepresent your thoughts. I meant literally what I said. Here is the phrase: You emphasized the words, "no moral weight at all" as if I were only talking about ethics (and your vision of them). Sorry if it sounded like I was misrepresenting your views. I wasn't. I was talking about rights at that moment. Rights are moral principles applied to social organization. In this case, the proper emphasis should have been on the words, "in applying it to society." According to your premises, the monster's act would have "no moral weight at all in applying it to society" since no right for the kid is generated. You mention individual acts by individual people only as the proper reaction to that - nothing organized on a social level. (Was that clear? Seriously. I don't want us to go around and around because either I was not clear or you did not understand. We communicate with words, and often there is a difficulty in two people finally talking about the same thing. Hopefully, you are seeing where I am going. First I want to establish a proper ethical principle, and then - and only then - return to how this impacts social organization, i.e., rights and politics.) Now, back to ethics only. What is the moral principle involved in calling the monster's behavior "evil"? My thinking leans toward that tricky little phrase, "species solidarity" of Branden and Rand. Michael
  13. Today, March 1, 2006, Robert Davison made the following statement on the Rebirth of Reason website. He was talking about Ayn Rand during Q&A sessions of lectures he attended, but the lectures are not specified. He has authorized me to post his comment here. Michael In an email to me dated March 1, 2006, he also stated:
  14. Roger, Right. Got it. Thanks. The premises are dead wrong. Well, how about the conclusion? Is it wrong too? //;-)) Michael (I think I've been reading too many of their posts. Still, a 5 premise syllogism with their kinda logic ain't no joke...)
  15. Phil, I agree with your evaluation of the six statements. (Why did you say five?) That already is a mess. But what causes my extreme contempt is that they want to use TOC's audience to sell books and bash TOC (and TOC's lecturers, especially the Brandens, but others too) at the same time. The truth is that they do not have the capacity to generate the kind of specialized audience that TOC does through a seminar. They simply aren't good enough and true enough to catch on with that public. So they must latch on and suck on the achievements of others - ones that they did not earn through their own efforts. And, just like any parasite, they work against the host. Michael
  16. Kitten, You know, the more I look at this, the more I like it. Anybody have any more suggestions? I am thinking of a dotted line (to denote secondary connection) between politics and esthetics, mainly mentioning freedom of speech, economics and group art forms (performing arts). Michael
  17. Jake, Glad to have you aboard. Make yourself at home. Michael
  18. My brother just sent me something real cute. It's a bit long, but worth it. I hope you enjoy this. It kind of reminds me of some of our philosophical discussions... Michael If Bud Abbott and Lou Costello were alive today, their infamous sketch, "Who's on first?" might have turned out something like this: COSTELLO CALLS TO BUY A COMPUTER FROM ABBOTT ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you? COSTELLO: Yes, thanks. I'm setting up an office in my den and I'm thinking about buying a computer. ABBOTT: Mac? COSTELLO: No, the name's Lou. ABBOTT: Your computer??!! COSTELLO: I don't own a computer I want to buy one. ABBOTT: Mac? COSTELLO: I told you, my name's Lou. ABBOTT: What about Windows? COSTELLO: Why? Will it get stuffy in here? ABBOTT: Do you want a computer with Windows? COSTELLO: I don't know. What will I see when I look at the windows? ABBOTT: Wallpaper. COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software. ABBOTT: Software for Windows? COSTELLO: No. On the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses and run my business. What do you have? ABBOTT: Office. COSTELLO: Yeah!! ... for my office! Can you recommend anything? ABBOTT: I just did. COSTELLO: You just did what? ABBOTT: Recommend something. COSTELLO: You recommended something? ABBOTT: Yes. COSTELLO: For my office? ABBOTT: Yes. COSTELLO: OK, what did you recommend for my office? ABBOTT: Office. COSTELLO: Yes, for my office! ABBOTT: I recommend Office with Windows. COSTELLO: I already have an office with windows! OK, let's just say I'm sitting at my computer and I want to type a proposal. What do I need? ABBOTT: Word. COSTELLO: What word? ABBOTT: Word in Office. COSTELLO: The only word in office is office ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows. COSTELLO: Which word in office for windows? ABBOTT: The Word you get when you click the blue "W". COSTELLO: I'm going to click your blue "w" if you don't start with some straight answers. OK, forget that Can I watch movies on the Internet? ABBOTT: Yes, you want Real One. COSTELLO: Maybe a real one, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. Just tell me what I need! ABBOTT: Real One. COSTELLO: If it's a long movie, I also want to watch reels 2, 3 and 4. Can I watch them? ABBOTT: Of course. COSTELLO: Great! With what? ABBOTT: Real One. COSTELLO: OK, I'm at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do? ABBOTT: You click the blue "1". COSTELLO: I click the blue one what? ABBOTT: The blue "1". COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue w? ABBOTT: The blue "1" is Real One and the blue "W" is Word. COSTELLO: What word? ABBOTT: The Word in Office for Windows. COSTELLO: But there are three words in "office for windows"! ABBOTT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world. COSTELLO: It is? ABBOTT: Yes, but to be fair, there aren't many other Words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other Words out there. COSTELLO: And that word is real one? ABBOTT: Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn't even part of Office. COSTELLO: STOP! Don't start that again. What about financial bookkeeping? You have anything I can track my money with? ABBOTT: Money. COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have? ABBOTT: Money. COSTELLO: I need money to track my money? ABBOTT: It comes bundled with your computer. COSTELLO: What's bundled with my computer? ABBOTT: Money. COSTELLO: Money comes with my computer? ABBOTT: Yes. No extra charge. COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer? How much? ABBOTT: One copy. COSTELLO: Isn't it illegal to copy money? ABBOTT: Microsoft gave us a license to copy Money. COSTELLO: They can give you a license to copy money? ABBOTT: Why not? THEY OWN IT! (A few days later) ABBOTT: Super Duper computer store. Can I help you? COSTELLO: How do I turn my computer off? ABBOTT: Click on "START".......
  19. Roger, I am really interested in the ethics (and human nature) part. I only mentioned the politics so we could simplify it and discuss the ethics for now - and then go back to politics. For instance you wrote: OK - you covered politics in the first statement. That is clear. In your conception - or going from your premises - a kid starving in the woods has no rights in the Objectivst view of society if a strange man comes along and has food, except for rights covered under the NIOF principle. (Parents are missing, so those rights are meaningless in this situation.) The fact that the kid depends on adults for his survival has no moral weight at all in applying it to society - not even in emergencies like that. In your second statement, you discussed ethics (I excluded the part that returned to the politics for the purpose of my point). You call such a man a "moral monster." Would you use the word "evil" to characterize his attitude and actions? If so, by what principle? I want to get a clear good-evil parameter before going back to politics. Michael
  20. Roger, May I resume your position as the following? An adult has the rights you mentioned in all situations, including emergencies. A child has a right to support until maturity only in parent-related issues, even when extreme indifference by an adult around him in an emergency results in his death. Is that fair? Michael
  21. Dragonfly, you just wrote: Can you prove that? (Sorry, I couldn't resist...) Michael
  22. Here's a tidbit. I just read on the NB Yahoo forum that NB has been quoted by The Journal News about the popular TV show, "American Idol." (Thanks to Michael R. Brown.) The text is given below. Michael
  23. TOC generously feeds both intellectuals and parasites I do not want OL to be a long-distance debating society, but since the material presented here has been of so much derogatory concern elsewhere, I wish to register a formal observation of contempt. The people on the pro-side issue of PARC are loudly bashing TOC for its seminar policies. They proudly proclaim that their scruples and integrity do not permit them to have anything to do with TOC because of the Brandens. Yet these same people are planning to cash in on an unearned audience that TOC generates to see if they can sell a book or two about the Brandens. They know that they never could draw such an audience on their own. The name for that is parasite. In this case, TOC literally is a host. Michael
  24. Roger, I prefer to stay on topic. My original concern (and my continued present one) is emergencies. I stated quite clearly to Bill that we fully agree for normal situations, but we disagree on emergencies. My reason for this lies in the nature of a child as opposed to an adult. What use is a right to him if exercising it by definition leads to death? Support by his parents is granted to him by the right-to-life until he reaches enough maturity to be able to care for himself. Any other formulation is a death sentence for him - especially a formulation that ignores his special developmental status. Now, does that right disappear because his parents are no longer present? I say that this is a gray area that needs common sense before all else. (I even read once in a book on philosophy that common sense is precisely what philosophy throws away in order to deal with more important matters. I consider this to be a vicious and false dichotomy.) Philosophy must look at this kind of issue in a reasonable light. (In my scenario, the adult's behavior is certainly not reasonable.) Thus in life-and-death emergencies, where rights get turned all topsy-turvy because nature has scrambled all the values up and eliminated all semblance of society, survival emerges to me as THE ONE overpowering concern - much more so than property or anything else. I sincerely believe that a definition of good and evil should take this into account. (The politics will follow after such definitions. And I do not support any slippery slope that leads to statism - but I do support the need for a government.) Michael
  25. Roger, We fully agree on one thing. If you take the kid's parents out of the picture, all you have left is a being with needs who cannot fully exercise his rights on his own. But this little being is supposed to have at least a right-to-life in our society. We are back to perspective. You are only seeing the rights thing through the lens of the adults, not through the eyes of one of the holders of a right. How we deal with that right-to-life is what we are discussing (or so I think). Just because his parents are not present all of a sudden, that does not mean that his right-to-life got canceled? Can a society cancel a right-to-life of a child because it doesn't fit with definitions placed on adults? Are you saying that? This shows that talking about only parent's rights and obligations is not really on target with my original example. So back to the original example. In a one-on-one situation in the wilderness, you (adult) get lost and encounter another stray child who is lost. You have it within your power to do something that is no real sacrifice (share your food, which you have enough), but to the kid it is literally life-and-death. It is not merely callous to walk away or stay around him and not give him some of the food. It is wrong and evil to do so. No amount of stretching points to try to cover it (like parental obligations, rights of the adult, whatever) is going to make that morally indifferent or good. It is not. I repeat, letting that child starve to death under those conditions is wrong and evil. This is why people prefer to avoid talking about it and changing it to something else. This is an example that is in the cracks and there are no easy answers. Much easier to forget about it - or change it - and move on to something easier to justify. Personally, I am groping for the principles here, since they have been ignored ever since Objectivism first came into being. If my situation is evil, there has to be an identifiable principle. Going the religious route, saying that God commands you to care for stray children, is not very satisfying for the obvious reason of not being reason-based. Going the collectivist route, altruism, also is not a good way, precisely because altruism itself is evil as a doctrine. I prefer my position of not having all the answers right now. I cannot in good conscious declare that in my situation, what the adult does is indifferent or good. Frankly, if Objectivism is going to preach that it is, religion and collectivism have won by default. They both say that this thing is evil. Maybe they got the reasons wrong, but the kid stands a chance under their systems. That is what the majority of people see and they will never go along with moral indifference in that case. Hell, I don't and I am an Objectivist. Roger, did you see what you did by the end of your post? You removed the emergency context and made it seem as if I were talking about forcing "convenient strangers with deep pockets" to pay for the upbringing of children that were not theirs. I never did that. (Actually, the rights of orphans is a very interesting topic, but that is for another time. I understand your position as meaning that orphans have no right-to-life if they are not developed enough to exercise it on their own. Is my understanding correct?) Michael